Saturday, December 16, 2006

the gym yoga challenge: what a frog i am

yesterday i got an email from a yoga teacher i'll i.d. only as j. she's a certified kripalu teacher who makes her living primarily at gyms, church basements, all that.

she'd been reading my blog and challenged me on my "studio yoga is superior" line by offering me a guest pass to a gym where she teaches so i could take her class. note that we've never met and she had no idea what i look like.

she emailed me the link to the guest pass, i printed it out, and presented myself at said gym at noonish. i didn't introduce myself to her and set up my mat at the back of the class.

so she had no idea who i was, and couldn't alter her class based on knowing i was there.

of course, to get to the yoga room, i had to deal with the whole standard nasty gym experience -- the up-tempo yet bland music with weird beats, the creepy guys with the tiny legs and giant arms in the free-weight room, the filthy floors, the women's locker room so reminiscent of a greyhound bus station, the cold-room temperatures. . .oh, and that bad fluorescent, frankenstein-like lighting. yikes.

the "yoga studio" was a pleasantly large room with a beautiful wood floor (serious yoga students soon learn to appreciate the many advantages of an excellent wood floor) but no natural light. and alas no wall room, since the non-mirrored walls were stacked high with those odd plastic mini-benches they use for step aerobics.

(do people still actually do step aerobics?) being surrounded by mirrors on 3 sides does make your yoga feel a little fun-house, but on the other it does allow you to check your foot alignment in some poses where it's hard to see your toes otherwise.

the class started. all the other attendees were super-fit in a gym-like way -- 6-packs, 8-packs, v-8s, whatever they call them -- and yet, to my vast surprise, most of them could not even touch their toes, much less put their hands flat by their feet in uttanasana. wow.

the class goes on, and it's basically as advertised -- a kripalu/sivananda-bastard style of light vinyasa. this means we began with a lot of sweeping arm motions, some pranayama, did 2 rounds of sivananda-style sun salutations (well some are better than the none i usually get), and then went on from there.

it was just about the standing pose flow that it hit me that actually this wasn't the worst yoga class i'd taken all year. in fact, most of the classes at my local yoga studio have declined beyond the one i was then standing in.

j. was right. she had won the gym yoga challenge.

while i've spent the last 2 years or so complaining about the decline of class quality in most of the better-known nyc yoga studios, esp. my local one, i had never imagined how bad it had gotten. i was truly like the frog in the pot of water, slowly being boiled to death without noticing.

that's it. i've already written eddie stern about possibly joining his led ashtanga in the evenings.

long-time readers know this is truly a drastic step for me; ashtanga makes me grumpy, as i always say.

but i just don't know where to turn for quality yoga in nyc anymore. . . between the dog-iyengar mixed with bad vinyasa indifferently phoned-in at most studios and the continuing popularity of disco yoga and its ilk, i'm desperate.

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posted by fortune | 2:05 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 10 comments

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